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Best back on familiar ground


Rory Best is confident Ireland can beat New Zealand

Rory Best is confident Ireland can beat New Zealand

Rory Best is confident Ireland can beat New Zealand

Ireland hooker Rory Best believes his side can take heart from their last appearance at Auckland's Eden Park when they meet New Zealand in the first Test on Saturday.

Declan Kidney's men recorded a memorable 15-6 win over Australia at last year's World Cup in their last fixture at the venue.

Best accepts that the world champions represent another step up in class, but said: "We have fond memories of (that game) nine months ago. We are well aware that it was a different tournament, a long time ago and a different team. The only thing that has stayed the same is the venue and even that has changed a bit."

He went on: "There are lots of positives that we can take from that win but we're under no illusions that we have a completely different task ahead of us now."

Reflecting on their September victory over the Wallabies, Best added: "It was no great surprise that we won that game. It was thrown around like it was some massive upset but we went into that game very confident and knowing we could win it."

Best, 29, made his debut against the All Blacks at Lansdowne Road in 2005 and is well aware of the fact Ireland have yet to beat their opponents in 24 matches.

While accepting it will be a tough task to change that in the next three Tests, he is convinced the current squad has sufficient quality to end the sequence.

"We are closing the gap and we want it closed," he said.

"It is a strange one from an Irish point of view as they are the only top-tier team we haven't beaten. We see ourselves as a very good team. We have a lot of faith in the ability of this squad. We have done all our homework on the All Blacks but need to get our stuff right.

"We would not turn up tomorrow if we were not confident of winning."